Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Whole Foods—aims for whole market

Here in Bend, we have a Wild Oats store. It’s over in a big east-side strip mall, between Costco and Barnes and Noble, not far from Safeway and Old Navy. You know the scene. We go there about once a month—I like to pick through their basket of little cheese pieces and get odd-ball cheeses I wouldn’t buy by the bigger chunks. Their smoked wild salmon is pretty good, too—a nice little once-a-month treat. Other than that, it’s an expensive place to shop. Expensive people shop there, too. Lots of gold jewelry and big SUVs.

A friend in Portland loves Whole Foods. She thinks they’re very reasonably priced. I don’t know. I haven’t been there—well, I take it back: we did a walk-through with our friend three or four years ago. I remember thinking it was expensive, too.

Hell, farmers’ markets are expensive, also. You don’t save money shopping there, but you do get better food. And their veggies are about the same as at the big groceries. Fruit’s more expensive. It’s hard to be poor and eat well—almost impossible.

And I always thought the justification for competition was lower priced goods.

Whole Market Foods?
Why the FTC is right to block Whole Foods' buyout of Wild Oats
19 Jul 2007

In a high-profile exchange with Michael Pollan last summer, Whole Foods Market CEO and founder John Mackey took an avuncular approach to farmers' markets that might take business from his company.

"Whole Foods Market is committed to supporting local farmers' markets across the United States (and also in Canada and the U.K.)," he wrote.

Elsewhere, the executive has displayed a zeal to crush competition that might make his counterparts at Microsoft blush. Last spring, Mackey sent a blunt email to the Whole Foods board, explaining his intention to buy Wild Oats -- Whole Foods' only direct nationwide competitor -- for a price well above what many analysts thought Wild Oats was worth.

By taking over Wild Oats, he argued, Whole Foods would not merely be snapping up 110 fully functioning natural-foods stores across the nation. Grabbing Wild Oats would also buy Whole Foods the power to "avoid nasty price wars" in several markets, as well as "eliminate forever" the threat of a major nationwide competitor in the natural-foods space.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?